What is College for?

(image from criticalthinking.org)

Horace Mann said, ‎”A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.”  So, the billion dollar question is… How do we inspire students who do not want to learn?

There are many students who are engaged, who want to learn, and who see education as more than a ticket to a job security.  Those students see their college experience as one of personal growth as well as career development. 

Then, there are the majority of students who show up in our freshmen writing classes with several things going against me. 1) They don’t really WANT to go to college – They just know mom and dad say college is the way to go if they want job security.  2) They really HATE English classes, especially writing.  3) Because they’re at a community college, they think this is going to be the 13th grade (and that it’ll be okay to act as if they’re in the 13th grade).

So, before I can teach writing – or perhaps AS I teach writing – I have to first hook ’em.  We need a student buy-in.  And getting the buy-in is much, much more difficult than teaching writing.  Sometimes the two are related, and a really effective lesson plan on writing can be the catalyst for a change in the students’ outlook on education. 

Job is important. Career development is important.  I don’t discount that.  (I, for one, find so much value in my work.)  I don’t propose learning for the sake of learning.  Often people find self value and self worth in the things they can accomplish in their work.  And often we contribute to our society through our work.  Still, a love of learning is something that can affect a person’s whole life.  It affects our ability to grow throughout the rest of our lives.  An over-emphasis on the GPA and the end goal of getting a high-paying salary can rob our students of a chance to enjoy learning.  And that’s a heavy price to pay for a diploma.


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